updated 08:25 pm EDT, Thu October 17, 2013
Landmark settlement intended to send a message to future infringers
According to court records filed today, Canadian Gary Fung has until the end of the week to close his BitTorrent search engine IsoHunt in addition to related sites TorrentBox, and Podtropolis. Fung has also agreed to pay various movie studios and other media production groups $110 million in damages to end the seven year-old legal skirmish.
"Today's settlement is a major step forward in realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation," said MPAA chairman Chris Dodd. "It also sends a strong message that those who build businesses around encouraging, enabling, and helping others to commit copyright infringement are themselves infringers, and will be held accountable for their illegal actions."
Dodd adding that "the successful outcome of this landmark lawsuit will also will help preserve jobs and protect the tens of thousands of businesses in the creative industries, whose hard work and investments are exploited by sites like IsoHunt."
Fung invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) "safe harbor" provisions in his defense, claiming his sites were filled with links and not actual pirated content. Fung claimed that the lack of hosted content made IsoHunt a search engine, and as such, entitled to protections afforded to search engines like Google.
The court didn't buy the argument. The links were said to "induce" copyright infringement, which both the original ruling and appeals court believed weren't protected by the DMCA search engine exception. The US Copyright act allows for penalties of up to $150,000 per violation, with Fung facing hundreds of thousands of counts.
"It's sad to see my baby go. But I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. Ten and a half years of IsoHunt has been a long journey by any business definition, and forever in Internet startup time," Fung told TorrentFreak. "One worry I want to address is at no time have I compromised privacy of any user on IsoHunt, in terms of [their] IP addresses or emails."